’The Ladder is always There’ – What makes a Feminist Poem?

’The Ladder is always There’ – What makes a Feminist Poem?

Spend some time reading and discussing a huge range of feminist poetry. Expect to be surprised, infuriated, and inspired.

* To ensure the safety of our tutors and students, this course will take place on video-conferencing platform, ZOOM *

In 1985, Chatto published the anthology Making for the Open: The Chatto Book of Post-Feminist Poetry. From our Twenty First Century vantage point it has become apparent that the title was somewhat premature and optimistic, with the resurgence of necessary and politicised work of contemporary writers like Kim Addonizio, Rebecca Tamás, Kim Moore, Warsan Shire, and Shivanee Ramlochan. From the Sumerian Princess Enheduanna – the first named author in world history – to Sappho, Anne Finch Countess of Winchilsea, and Twentieth Century voices like Edna St Vincent Millay, Dorothy Parker, Adrienne Rich, Margaret Atwood, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde, right up to the present day, women have always written poetry. Some of that poetry has been quietly subversive, some of it has been openly defiant and disruptive. Over the term, we’ll discuss the changing definitions of feminism over time and look at feminist writing from the historical to the contemporary. We’ll consider whether it is possible to really characterise feminist poetry and poetics, and will also examine the many ways that writing through the lens of feminism might influence the language and form of poems. Expect to be surprised, infuriated, and inspired.

Note: this is a reading course and, as such, there will be no in-class writing exercises or workshopping of your own poems.

5 fortnightly Zoom sessions on Thursdays 6.45–8.45pm, starts 1 October.

Image Credit: The Library of Congress

About Jacqueline Saphra View Profile

Jacqueline Saphra’s collection All My Mad Mothers from Nine Arches Press was shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot prize. In the same year A Bargain with the Light: Poems after Lee Miller was published by Hercules Editions. Dad, Remember You Are Dead was published by Nine Arches Press in September 2019. Veritas: Poems after Artemisia Gentileschi was published by Hercules Editions in May 2020.

‘I love coming to the Poetry school. The standard is so high that it is very stimulating and motivating.We all learn from each other. Poetry School is really helping me to feel a part of a community of committed and supportive poets and this is invaluable to my development as a writer.’

– Summer 2019 survey response

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